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Vermeulen, Steyn back in the mix for Rugby Champs

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Vermeulen had surgery to his knee, while Steyn suffered a hamstring injury in June which ruled them out of the Castle Lager Incoming Series against Wales, and the next few weeks will serve as the opportune time for the Bok coaching and medical staff to monitor the players’ progress. With sufficient cover at the back and at loose forward in the squad, Aphelele Fassi and Marcell Coetzee will return to their franchises.

Cheslin Kolbe (wing), who broke his jaw in the final Test against Wales, has also been omitted from the squad as he is only set to be available for selection in September, while Cobus Reinach (scrumhalf), who did his rehabilitation with the national squad following a dislocated shoulder, requires medical clearance from his club Montpellier before he can be considered for selection.

The Springboks will play back-to-back Tests against the All Blacks in Nelspruit on Saturday, 6 August and in Johannesburg a week later on 13 August.

This will be followed by a trip to Australia, where they will play Tests at the Adelaide Oval (27 August) and Allianz Stadium in Sydney (3 September), before travelling to Argentina where they will meet the Pumas at Estadio José Amalfitani in Buenos Aires on 17 September. The team will then return to South Africa to wrap up their campaign in Durban against the Pumas on Saturday, 24 September.

“We are pleased with the enthusiasm and attitude the new players showed in the squad during the Castle Lager Incoming Series, and we feel that this group well worked together throughout the campaign and that we have good cover in all positions, so we opted to keep the majority of the group together for the home leg of Castle Lager Rugby Championship campaign,” said Nienaber.

“We will reassess the size of the squad for our tour to Australia and Argentina in the next few weeks.

“Duane and Frans are both very experienced players and they each have valuable traits that they bring to the field of play, so we are excited to welcome them into the fold. This will offer the coaches and medical staff a good opportunity to determine where they are in terms of their rugby.”

Frans Steyn is back in the Bok squad after missing the series against Wales.

Frans Steyn is back in the Bok squad after missing the series against Wales.

Nienaber added: “It is disappointing for Aphelele and Marcell, but we were limited in how many players we could select. That said, we know what both of them can do on the field and we have a big picture in mind with the Rugby World Cup next year.

“We will continue to keep a close eye on them at their provinces as well as all the other players on our radar that were not selected in this group.”

Nienaber looked forward to the next chapter of their season and said: “New Zealand, Australia and Argentina will pose different challenges to Wales, and we realise the importance of hitting the ground running in the first two Tests.

“We will enter the competition with a series win against Wales, which will give us a little confidence, especially after the way we played in the deciding Test against Wales, but back-to-back matches against the All Blacks is a completely different challenge, and we know that they will come here wanting to make amends for losing their last two matches against Ireland.

“The way we perform in those Tests will set the tone for the rest of the competition, which will be equally tough with three matches on tour before playing our final fixture in Durban, but we plan to approach this series one match at a time and to work as hard as possible to get the desired results and to continue to build and gel even stronger as a squad.”

The Springboks will assemble in Mpumalanga on Sunday and will have a training camp in Hazyview before making the journey to Nelspruit on Friday afternoon for the opening Test against the All Blacks at the Mbombela Stadium a week later.

Springbok squad for Castle Lager Rugby Championship:

Props:
Thomas du Toit (Cell C Sharks)
Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers)
Vincent Koch (Wasps)
Frans Malherbe (DHL Stormers)
Ntuthuko Mchunu (Cell C Sharks)
Ox Nche (Cell C Sharks)
Trevor Nyakane (Racing 92)

Hookers:
Joseph Dweba (DHL Stormers)
Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears)
Bongi Mbonambi (Cell C Sharks)

Locks:
Lood de Jager (Wild Knights)
Eben Etzebeth (Cell C Sharks)
Salmaan Moerat (DHL Stormers)
Ruan Nortje (Vodacom Bulls)
Marvin Orie (DHL Stormers)

Loose forwards:
Pieter-Steph du Toit (Toyota Verblitz)
Siya Kolisi (Cell C Sharks)
Elrigh Louw (Vodacom Bulls)
Evan Roos (DHL Stormers)
Kwagga Smith (Shizuoka Blue Revs)
Jasper Wiese (Leicester Tigers)
Duane Vermeulen (Ulster)

Utility forwards:
Rynhardt Elstadt (Toulouse)
Deon Fourie (DHL Stormers)
Franco Mostert (Honda Heat)

Scrumhalves:
Faf de Klerk (Canon Eagles)
Jaden Hendrikse (Cell C Sharks)
Herschel Jantjies (DHL Stormers)
Grant Williams (Cell C Sharks)

Flyhalves:
Elton Jantjies (NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes)
Handre Pollard (Leicester Tigers)

Midfielders:
Lukhanyo Am (Cell C Sharks)
Damian de Allende (Wild Knights)
Andre Esterhuizen (Harlequins)
Jesse Kriel (Cannon Eagles)

Outside Backs:
Warrick Gelant (Racing 92)
Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz)
Makazole Mapimpi (Cell C Sharks)

Utility Backs:
Kurt-Lee Arendse (Vodacom Bulls)
Frans Steyn (Toyota Cheetahs)
Damian Willemse (DHL Stormers)

Castle Lager Rugby Championship fixtures (SA times):
17h05: Saturday, 6 August – Springboks v New Zealand (Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit)
17h05: Saturday, 13 August – Springboks v New Zealand (Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg)
07h30: Saturday, 27 August – Australia v Springboks (Adelaide Oval, Adelaide)
11h35: Saturday, 3 September – Australia v Springboks (Allianz Stadium, Sydney)
21h10: Saturday, 17 September – Argentina v Springboks (Estadio José Amalfitani, Buenos Aires)
17h05: Saturday, 24 September – Springboks v Argentina (Hollywoodbets Kings Park, Durban)

Content & Images from – South Africa Rugby


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A fertile breeding ground for international players

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South Africa Rugby - Image Credit Asics

One of the significant features to come out of the Springboks’ Castle Lager Outgoing Tour this month – and the November international series in general – was how it underlined the role played by the Vodacom United Rugby Championship in breeding players for successful roles in their national teams.

Indeed, while Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber was initially criticised for ignoring home based players who’d made their names in the Vodacom URC, by the end of the calendar year that had changed, with several newcomers who either first captured the eye in the 16-team cross-hemisphere competition or grew their game there, making an indelible mark.

Understandably, the 2021/22 finalists, the eventual champions DHL Stormers and the Vodacom Bulls, led the way when it came to providing breakout opportunities for players within their system.

Kurt-Lee Arendse, who scored the thrilling try that had Twickenham aghast and even England supporters marvelling at his pace and skill, was one such player.

Arendse made his debut for the Boks in the second Test against Wales in Bloemfontein in July, but it was after France-based Cheslin Kolbe was injured in the third and deciding game against the Welsh that Arendse got his chance to show that he could transfer his sublime form for the Bulls in the Vodacom URC onto the international stage.

He turned in a stellar performance in his first outing against the All Blacks in Nelspruit in August, with his pace and his mastery in the air being a constant thorn to the New Zealanders and he capped it with the opening try of the game.

Kurt-Lee Arendse's seventh try in sevens Tests came at Twickenham last weekend.

Kurt-Lee Arendse’s seventh try in sevens Tests came at Twickenham last weekend.

Unfortunately, Arendse blotted his copybook when red carded following an unfortunate clash with an airborne Beauden Barrett and the injury sustained in that incident, plus the subsequent suspension, prevented him from playing for much of the rest of the Boks’ Castle Lager Rugby Championship campaign.

He did return though for the final game against Argentina in Durban as a replacement and in no time at all after he came on, Arendse scored one of his trademark tries, running it in from near the Pumas 10 metre line, off the last move of the game.

The Boks didn’t hit target in that game, and ended second in the Rugby Championship, but Arendse’s star shone, as it did again on the end of season tour.

Arendse was a big contributor to the great Bok counter-attacking that appeared to stun the French in Marseille, his opening try and then the follow up to complete the brace was a talking point when Italy were laid to the sword in Genoa, and then came the Twickenham highlight to the tour.

Arendse is being talked about as a special player, and it was in the Vodacom URC that he first got experience of playing against overseas players and overseas conditions.

Ditto his young Vodacom Bulls team-mate Canan Moodie, who made his Test debut at the age of just 19 as Arendse’s replacement during the international season. His excellent try, plucking a kick out of the air and then running 30 metres to score, was the turning point in the Boks’ favour against the Wallabies in Sydney and will be part of any end of year highlights package.

Canan Moodie races away for his brilliant try against the Wallabies in Sydney.

Canan Moodie races away for his brilliant try against the Wallabies in Sydney.

Moodie started the 2022 calendar year playing Currie Cup rugby for the Bulls, and made a big statement in his debut against DHL Western Province before quickly being elevated into the Vodacom URC team, where his potential was picked up by the national coaches.

Elrigh Louw was another Bulls player who has used the Vodacom URC as a platform to bid for national honours, and he played in the competition in its previous guise as the PRO14 when he was at the Southern Kings.

That was where Louw was first spotted by South Africa’s Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus, probably on the recommendation of the then Kings DOR Robbie Kempson.

Louw played for the SA ‘A’ team in November, but in his absence the 2021/22 Vodacom URC Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year, Evan Roos, made full use of his opportunity.

With only the one cap earned in the second Test against Wales to his credit before the tour, Roos played off the bench in the destruction of Italy before transferring his Vodacom URC form to the international stage in London a week later. In that game, fellow DHL Stormers player Marvin Orie also showed he belongs at international level.

Although Orie had played for the Boks before, and was first capped while still at the Emirates Lions, this was his breakout year at international and he confirmed it at Twickenham, where no doubt his experience of being part of the winning Stormers effort in the Vodacom URC final helped his confidence.

Elrigh Louw and Salmaan Moerat made their Test debuts this year.

Elrigh Louw and Salmaan Moerat made their Test debuts this year.

His Stormers teammate Salmaan Moerat would have added more Bok appearances in 2022 were he not playing behind arguably the world’s finest lock, Eben Etzebeth, who will grace the Vodacom URC in the colours of the Cell C Sharks going forward.

Deon Fourie and Manie Libbok were two other DHL Stormers players who joined Roos and Moerat in making their Bok debuts this year, with Libbok looking the part as a replacement in Genoa.

Libbok is one of the Vodacom URC’s biggest success stories – not long ago he was struggling to establish himself in the starting teams of the Bulls and Sharks, but thanks to the platform given to him by the Stormers, he has grown into a genuine international quality player.

Which of course is exactly what Damian Willemse is now. The utility back had also played for the Boks before this year, and was with them as a replacement at the Rugby World Cup in Japan in 2019.

But it was off the back of his Vodacom URC form, and the experience of being in the winning team, that Willemse took the bit properly between his teeth in the international season and made the graduation from fringe international player to the world class player he ended the year as.

And then there is Junior Springbok captain Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, who we first saw when he played as a replacement in last season’s quarter-final, was selected to tour but didn’t play.

With Italy beating Australia for the first time, and Ireland going through the autumn internationals unbeaten, plus Scotland pushing New Zealand all the way before thumping Argentina and being unlucky not to beat the Wallabies at the start of this phase, it could be argued that the success of the Vodacom URC, and the impetus given to the competition by South African participation, was writ large.

Content & Images from – South Africa Rugby


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Spencer looking to bring innovation to Sky Super Rugby Aupiki

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Former All Blacks and Blues first five-eighths Carlos Spencer hopes to pass on the sort of rugby that marked his career as a backs coach for the Blues women’s side in Sky Super Rugby Aupiki in 2023.

The 99-time Blues’ pivot played 44 Tests for the All Blacks and 89 games for Auckland during his career spanning the turn of the century. He also played for Northampton and Gloucester in the English Premiership.

Since building his coaching record after completing his rugby-playing career in South Africa in Gauteng, he has coached in the Republic, the United States and the Hurricanes in Wellington.

Now he has taken the chance to join head coach Willie Walker and fellow assistant coach Linda Itunu with the Blues.

Spencer, 47, said: “When I was playing, I always liked to bring a bit of innovation and ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking to the table. Now, as a coach, I want to encourage and help grow those same traits in our Blues wahine.”

Like most of New Zealand, he was caught up in the Black Ferns’ World Cup success, and he anticipates there will be a follow-on effect in Sky Super Rugby Aupiki.

“You’ve seen the rise of women’s rugby and the way the public got right in behind the Black Ferns.

“We’re at an exciting juncture for the sport, and I’m looking forward to getting involved and doing what I can to help grow and support women’s rugby.”

“I’ve known Willie [Walker] for a while. We’ve thrown the touch ball around and have a good relationship. He’s done some fantastic work with the Auckland Storm in the Farah Palmer Cup, and I’m looking forward to exchanging ideas and getting the backline humming.

“I don’t know Linda, but have seen her exploits on the field for many years with the Black Ferns – she was an enforcer on the field,”

Blues chief executive Andrew Hore said having Spencer on board with the Blues organisation was special, and was an example of harnessing the resources available within the franchise’s region.

Content & Images from – New Zealand Rugby


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Constructive talks between World Rugby, Erasmus

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South Africa Rugby - Image Credit Asics

World Rugby CEO Alan Gilpin and World Rugby Director of Rugby Phil Davies met with South Africa Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus on Thursday and held positive discussions regarding recent events and match official communications in general.

Views were exchanged resulting in a better understanding of the respective positions.

There was agreement that further dialogue was needed in terms of enhancing the process that operates between teams and match officials to ensure all can play their part in creating great spectacles and avoid frustration but in a way that underpins the respect for match officials, coaches and players.

Further dialogue will continue after today’s final Springbok test of the year.

Content & Images from – South Africa Rugby


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